by Pete Mazzaccaro

The Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District has invited the community to visit its offices from Wednesday, Jan. 21, through Saturday, Jan. 24, and on Monday, Jan. 26, and Tuesday, Jan. 27, to offer feedback on the BID’s 2015 Streetscape Plan. The effort stems from the recent receipt of a Department of Commerce and Economic Development grant.

That grant was for up to $25,000 to facilitate that planning process. The process is being overseen by a community steering committee that includes representatives from the Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District, business association, parking foundation, community association, community fund, garden district fund, green space initiative, and historical society.

“The goal for this planning effort is to update the 2005 study completed by Cope Linder and move several priorities for the Chestnut Hill District significantly closer to implementation,” read a release announcing the open house. The BID hopes the public will “provide feedback in identifying the top priorities for Chestnut Hill.”

These priorities include initiatives such as improved lighting throughout the District, safer pedestrian crosswalks, enhanced gateways into Chestnut Hill, parking lot improvements, opportunities for additional green space initiatives, recommendations for connectors between the upper and lower Hill, standards for sidewalk repairs, and traffic calming at select intersections.

The Cope Linder study was a long-range plan commissioned by the Chestnut Hill Business Association. That plan, BID director Martha Sharkey said, has been the centerpiece of the organization’s efforts.

“To this day we review the Cope Linder Study and follow recommendations suggested through that planning effort,” Sharkey said.. “We have accomplished many projects from the Cope Linder Study, including the bump-out at Germantown Avenue and Bethlehem Pike, selecting uniform street furniture (such as the benches you see throughout the District), and beautification efforts with flower boxes and holiday lighting just to name a few.”

But more remains to be done.

“This planning effort is an opportunity to evaluate initiatives outlined within the Cope Linder study and move them further down the road toward implementation, which is ultimately the end goal,” Sharkey said. “Let’s focus efforts on getting some of these projects completed. For example, the sidewalks were repainted several years ago, but they are currently in disrepair. Let’s look at what we can do to enhance the pedestrian experience when visiting Chestnut Hill. Does the design for the crosswalks go beyond painting white stripes on them? How can we make our pedestrians safer as they experience Chestnut Hill?”

That, Sharkey said, is where the public’s input is needed. All are invited to stop in the Chestnut Hill Welcome Center, 16 E. Highland Ave., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to learn more about the efforts, existing planning goals and to offer input.

“We welcome input from the public as we evaluate these priorities and look to move several of them toward implementation,” Sharkey said.